Dick (Richard) York

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Dick (Richard) York

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Death: February 20, 1992 (63)
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About Dick (Richard) York

Actor Dick York started out as a child performer on radio, playing important roles in such airwaves favorites as Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. In the early '50s, York began showing up in New York-based instructional films, including a now-infamous reel about proper dating etiquette. Establishing himself as one of Broadway's most versatile young character actors, he was seen in such major productions as Tea and Sympathy, Bus Stop, and Night of the Auk. In films from 1955, York's most famous movie role was schoolteacher Bertram Cates in Inherit the Wind, the 1960 dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Though a prolific TV guest star, he didn't settle down on a weekly series until 1962, when he co-starred with Gene Kelly and Leo G. Carroll in a short-lived video adaptation of Going My Way. Two years later, he landed his signature role: Darren Stephens, the eternally flustered husband of glamorous witch Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery), in Bewitched. He remained with the series until 1969, when a recurring back ailment (the legacy of an on-set injury suffered while filming the 1959 feature They Came to Cordura) forced York to relinquish the role of Darren to Dick Sargent. Though he was for all intents and purposes retired from acting, York remained active on behalf of several pro-social causes. He was the founder of Acting for Life, an organization designed to help the homeless help themselves. Living a spartan existence in Grand Rapids, MI, an increasingly infirm Dick York tirelessly continued giving of himself for the benefit of others until his death from emphysema in 1992. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Dick York (September 4, 1928 – February 20, 1992) was an American actor in radio, Broadway stage, and television.

Born Richard Allen York in Fort Wayne, Indiana, York grew up in Chicago, where a Catholic nun first recognized his vocal promise. He began his career at age 15 as the star of the CBS radio program That Brewster Boy. He also appeared in hundreds of other radio shows and instructional films before heading to New York City, where he acted on Broadway in Tea and Sympathy and Bus Stop. He performed with stars including Paul Muni and Joanne Woodward in live television broadcasts and with Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, and Gary Cooper in movies, including My Sister Eileen, Operation Mad Ball, Cowboy, and They Came to Cordura. He played the role of Bertram Cates, the young teacher charged with teaching the theory of evolution, in the 1960 classic Inherit the Wind starring Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, and Gene Kelly. He went on to star with Kelly in the television comedy/drama Going My Way and to appear in dozens of episodes of now-classic TV shows, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train, The Twilight Zone, and Route 66.

Mr. York is best known as the first and much beloved actor to play Darrin Stephens in the 1960s sitcom Bewitched. The show was a huge success and York was nominated for an Emmy in 1968, but a debilitating back injury he had suffered on the set of They Came to Cordura caused him increasing pain. During the fifth season on the sitcom, he collapsed on the Bewitched set and was rushed to a hospital. From his hospital bed, he resigned from the show to devote himself to recovery. For the 1969-70 season, he was replaced in the TV series by actor Dick Sargent, who held the role until the series ended in 1972.



York with Bewitched co-star Elizabeth Montgomery (1964).

As York battled his very severe and much increasing back pain, he could no longer accept acting jobs or any other job for that matter. He and his very devoted wife Joan, supported themselves via an apartment building they owned. However, increased medical costs forced them to sell the building.

In his posthumously-published memoir, The Seesaw Girl and Me, York explained that it took him many more years to regain an interest in acting and to try to revive his career. He lost the weight he had gained and appeared on several prime-time TV shows including Simon and Simon and Fantasy Island.

A heavy smoker in his younger days, York spent his final years battling emphysema. Although bedridden in his Rockford, Michigan home, he maintained a very strong faith in God. He founded Acting for Life, a private Christian charity to help the homeless and others in need. Using his telephone as his pulpit, York motivated politicians, business people, and regular folk to contribute supplies and money. York is buried in Plainfield Cemetery in Rockford, Michigan.

He was married in 1951 to Joan York, until his death on 20 February 1992 of emphysema, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Dick (Richard) York's Timeline

1928
September 4, 1928
1992
February 20, 1992
Age 63